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Vale Sir Brian Inglis AC

Ford President, Bob Graziano, has paid tribute to the life and work of a former Ford Managing Director, Sir Brian Inglis AC, 92, who died recently.

“Ford in Australia has only ever had 15 Presidents or Managing Directors since 1925; Sir Brian is remembered fondly as one of the first of a number of Ford executives who made a point of being seen on the factory floor to get a first-hand view of how the teams were going and how Ford vehicles were being built,” Mr. Graziano said.

Sir Brian was Managing Director of Ford Australia between 1970 and 1981 and was Ford’s first locally born Managing Director. He is credited for being largely responsible for kick starting the development of the first all-Australian Ford, the Falcon, to replace a locally built version of the British-sourced Zephyr.

In 1958, Sir Brian got a chance to see a clay model of the proposed all-new Falcon at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters and preferred it to a restyled version of the Zephyr. Sir Brian subsequently cabled back to the team in Australia to drop plans for the Zephyr even though tooling and components had been bought or ordered.

At the time Sir Brian said: “There was no doubt which was the better-looking car.”*

He later became head of the Ford Asia-Pacific division before retiring in 1984. In 1977 he was knighted for services to industry.

Born in Adelaide in 1924, Sir Brian, finished his education as a boarder at Geelong Grammar. He left school in 1941 to join the RAAF and while waiting for his call-up, worked as a casual employee in the Ford finance office.

During World War II he saw active service in England and Europe as a Spitfire pilot with 453 Squadron.

On his return to Australia in 1946, Sir Brian enrolled at Trinity College, Melbourne University, where he graduated in 1949 with a B.Sc., having majored in Metallurgy.

In 1949, Sir Brian, rejoined Ford, this time with Ford of Canada as a member of the management training program in Windsor, Ontario. While in North America he undertook assignments in Industry and Manufacturing Engineering in both Ford Canada and Ford US Plants.

On his return to Australia in 1951, he was elected a Director of Ford Australia and appointed to the position of General Manufacturing Manager. In October 1967, Sir Brian was named Director of Manufacturing and Supply.

 Apart from his Ford duties, Sir Brian, was involved in the Melbourne University Appointments Board, served for three years as the President of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (1972-1975) and was for three years a member of the Australian Export Development Council. From 1976-77 Sir Brian was appointed a member of the Federal Government’s Economic Consultative Committee. In May 1977, he was appointed Chairman of the Australian Manufacturing Council and was a member of the Crawford Study Group on Structural Adjustment. In June 1979 he accepted a further term as President of the FCAI.

Sir Brian’s father was an original Ford Australia employee and his late brother, Malcolm, was also a senior executive with the company.

Sir Brian is survived by his wife Lady Leila Inglis and daughters Barbara, Alison and Andrea.

A memorial service for Sir Brian will be held at the chapel of Trinity College in Parkville, Melbourne, on Monday, October 13 at 10.30 am.

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